Some form of ban on smoking in public places could be introduced in England and Wales, a minister has indicated.
Any ban is likely to arouse passion on both sides
With the Irish ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants hailed as a success, there has been a pressure for Westminster to follow suit.
Public health minister Melanie Johnson said a large consultation exercise found significant support.
But she would not reveal the scale of ban being considered, saying "taking some form of action" was on the cards.
Pro-smoking choice groups and many ordinary drinkers feel a ban would be unfair and excessive and favour some form of voluntary measure. Drinks industry representatives are also worried that a complete ban could have a major impact on sales.
Ms Johnson speaking on BBC Two's Newsnight programme, said of the consultation exercise: "The findings show there is a lot of support towards banning
smoking in public places.
"But we know from polling that in fact there is a different result from
looking at different forms of public place. So, for example, there is a much
stronger support for banning smoking in restaurants than there is in pubs."
The results of the four-month consultation exercise on a range of public health issues will form the basis of a white paper in the autumn.
The minister added: "What we have also consulted on in the Labour Party through the
Big Conversation was actually local bans, we have also looked at those.
"We will certainly be looking at the ways in which we address smoking in
public places and taking some form of action as a result of the White Paper."